Accepting drug perks, or hiding the fact that you did. What’s worse?

There’s a movement afloat where medical students would cover up the names of drugs on promotional gifts with duct tape.

But, as medical student Adina Cappell notes, does that really solve anything?

“The problem is, by covering up the name of the pharmaceutical company,” she writes, “the future doctor does his patients and colleagues a disservice . . . By accepting perks, but refusing to give up the names of his bank-rollers, and by concealing their names on his complementary tote bag, the doc’s actions ought to be considered . . . as plain old corruption.”

Indeed, if a medical student was so virtuous, the gift would have been declined in the first place. Covering up the name of the drug really isn’t proving anything.

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  • Evan Falchuk

    I bet most patients don’t realize how often their doctors are solicited by drug and device companies.

    But I also suspect most doctors are not so credulous as to do something they would not otherwise do because of those solicitations.

    Why not disclose all of this?

    Wouldn’t it be better if patients knew how this whole process works?

    If patients knew the influences that might be affecting their doctor’s judgments, they could ask about them, and decide on their own if they think the advice their doctor is giving them is sound or tainted.

    If you’ve not been inappropriately influenced, or you’ve been influenced but it’s because you happen to think the drug company is right about their drug, why should you be ashamed?

  • Anonymous

    As a med student I did this all the time, and don’t think it was necessarily unethical or duplicitous. The duct tape was not to prevent the patient from seeing the logo of the pharm company, it was to prevent ME from doing so. A pen is then just a pen, instead of a Viagra pen or a Lipitor pen.

  • VendorMD

    Does someone really think that a 50 cent pen can really buy a physicians’ integrity??? I will be surprised and horrified, if even a single physician puts 50 cents before his patients’ wellbeing.

    In my opinion this issue of focusing on pens and paper pads is a misdirected campaign. It is a way to shift attention from high drug prices which have not come down, despite clamping on these petty pens!

  • Anonymous

    I’ll stop accepting pens and pads with drug logos that day that patients stop seeing commercials about prescription medications.

    If a my high school dropout patient is smart enough to understand that he needs lipitor (and no other drug) to lower his cholesterol then my medical school diploma should allow me to come to the same conclusion.

    Americans are bombarded with ads for everything – furniture, toothpaste, dishwasher soap, and medicines. It’s part of life. If you make it to adulthood and don’t recognize propaganda, you’ll be prescribing “alternative medicine,” not prescription drugs.

  • James

    To VendorMD, that’s just the attitude the company wants you to have. Keep on telling yourself you know better, but studies show you don’t.

  • Sampster

    I agree with the first anonymous comment. I feel like this post ignores the fact that medical students could be applying the tape to keep themselves from having to look at a company name 20 times a day.

    I think that’s a completely legitimate thing to do. To assume that covering pharmaceutical names implies a kind of self-righteousness seems a bit unfair.

  • Resident Anesthesiologist Guy (RAG)

    If I’m so dangerous and stupid that I can’t be held responsible amongst pharmaceutical reps, then why am I given Rx pads, the option to write for almost whatever medication I want for a patient, and the power to order tests/ treatments, etc. for them? Why am I entrusted to perform invasive procedures, placing powerful drugs into their nervous system, and impaling their blood vessels with all manner of instruments to monitor and maintain their hemodynamics? I think the reps are worthless, but the belief that you can’t trust physicians to not have the wool pulled over their eyes by “Big Pharma” is absurd. If we honestly have that little faith, then why in the hell trust your physician with anything?

  • Quiact

    Both, and neither should be done.

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